Category Archives: NFC East

2020 NFL Draft recap: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys Notable picks: With the deflection of former starter Byron Jones, the team went with a player who contains similar length in Diggs. He is certainly more of a ballhawk, but can he provide the consistency in coverage that Jones gave them over a two-year period. It will be worth monitoring the development of Robinson II. His profile may actually be closer to Jones’ than Diggs.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (17) CeeDee Lamb6’2 198
WR-Oklahoma
11/1st Round Lamb has all of the requisite tools to win with both savvy and quickness as a route runner. He has a solid set of tools to be a complement within the Dallas passing game initially. We expect him to see some time in the slot.
2 (51) Trevon Diggs6’1 205
CB-Alabama
84/2nd Round Diggs brings more than NFL bloodlines to the table. He is aggressive getting his hands on WRs at the line of scrimmage. Finding a balance in that aggression and bringing it to run support will ramp up his development.
3 (82) Neville Gallimore6’2 304 DT-Oklahoma143/3rd Round Gallimore had some issues with balance in school and that is probably why he lasted until this spot in the draft. For a player with his level of quickness and power, it was a bit surprising that he didn’t make more plays in school.
4 (123) Reggie Robinson II6’1 205 CB-Tulsa93/3rd Round Robinson II didn’t get the ink of some of the other big CBs in this year’s draft and maybe that should not come as a surprise. He has always been competitive in coverage and finished better in 2019.
4 (146) Tyler Biadasz6’4 314 OC-Wisconsin59/2nd RoundBiadasz was not a dominator in school but he was assignment-sound. The former prep level baseball player led an offensive line that was ravaged by graduation from 2018 and did so admirably.
5 (179)Bradlee Anae6’3 257
DE-Utah
100/3rd Round Due to sub-standard edge rusher workout times Anae fell in the draft. This came after a dominant Senior Bowl showing that showcased his feel for getting off the ball.
7 (220)Ben DiNucci6’2 210
QB-James Madison, Pittsburgh
555/7th RoundDiNucci’s moxie may have influenced this selection. The former Pitt Panther quietly was a couple of inches away from leading the Dukes to a national championship in 2019.
Utah’s Bradlee Anae (No. 6 pictured) forces a fumble versus Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser (No. 25 picutred) in the fourth quarter. He finished 2018 with 51 tackles, eight quarterback sacks, 15.5 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and three pass break-ups. The Cowboys selected Anae in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft (179th overall).
New York Giants Notable pick: The team would be satisfied if Holmes can come in and lock down a nickel role within their scheme. The team has quietly assembled enough size on the edges, so it will be imperative for him to learn the various roles of an inside position while also contributing on special teams.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (4) Andrew Thomas6’5 317
OT-Georgia
6/1st RoundThomas has the occasional top-heavy look but he remains relatively consistent establishing a lockout on the perimeter. He won’t be able to get by with relatively in the NFL and his overall
2 (40) Xavier McKinney6’0 201
S-Alabama
41/2nd Round McKinney will be able to play a variety of roles for the Giants just like he did with the Crimson Tide. His best characteristic comes from his pre-snap cognitive ability in diagnosing the opposition’s intentions.
3 (71) Matt Peart6’5 312
OT-UConn
72/2nd Round Peart is by no means a finished product, but that doesn’t mean starting is out of the question. He is most comfortable at RT, but he has started on both sides of the OL in school.
4 (110) Darnay Holmes5’10 195
CB-UCLA
112/3rd Round Holmes lack of width (69-inch wingspan) hurt his cause and forced him to fall. Penalties were a bit of an issue in 2019 but he found a way to compete week-to-week.
5 (150) Shane Lemieux6’4 310
OG-Oregon
299/4th Round You will not find many arguments surrounding Lemieux’s work ethic and determination. He was a consistent presence at OG for the Ducks over a four-year period. He finished his career with 52 consecutive starts.
6 (183) Cam Brown6’5 233
LB-Penn State
210/4th Round Brown has been used to run up the seams with TEs, cover down over the slot and off the edge as an occasional rush artist. He seemed to be most comfortable in school filtering back inside from an overhang LB spot.
New York Giants first-round pick Andrew Thomas (No. 71 pictured) started at both right and left tackle for the ‘Dawgs during his three-year stay in Athens.
7 (218)
Carter Coughlin
6’3 236
LB-Minnesota
286/4th Round
Coughlin finished his career with 22 QB sacks and 40 TFLs. When you combine that with his 4.57 speed, then the team may have gotten a core special teams contributor. He starred on the kickoff team way back in 2016 (see Holiday Bowl).
7 (238)
Tremari “T.J.” Brunson
6’1 230
LB-South Carolina
392/5th Round
Brunson may not completely fit the bill in terms of size, but he does play bigger than his measurements. He had some lower body extremity issues in school, but he appeared in 49 games (283 tackles, 21 TFLs).

7 (247)

Chris Williamson
6’0 205
NB/S-Minnesota, Florida
421/5th Round
Williamson was often tasked with covering fast slot WRs one-on-one and held his own. Hand placement is an issue but his work as a blitzer shows promise. The former Florida Gator should compete favorably in training camp.
7 (255)
Tae Crowder
6’3 235 (E)
LB-Georgia
463/6th Round
Crowder showed time-and-time again that he is capable of chasing plays down laterally. He leaves some tackle opportunities on the field because he does not always get his head across the bow of the opponent.
Philadelphia Eagles Notable pick:  Reagor has a role to fill in the team’s offense as the Wild Card type of player. If he can execute a variety of different responsibilities, then the Eagles will be able to use his elusive skill set to maximize one-on-one matchups on a down-to-down basis.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (21) Jalen Reagor5’11 205
All-purpose-TCU
49/2nd Round Reagor simply needs to find his way as a route runner to take advantage of his outstanding physical tools. He runs well after the catch, tracks the ball down the field and makes defenders miss in space.
2 (53)Jalen Hurts6’1 222
QB-Oklahoma, Alabama 
127/3rd Round Hurts earned kudos at both collegiate stops for his leadership, poise and overall strength. It would not be a shock to see him involved in a number of packages as a rookie.
3 (103)Davion Taylor6’0 224
LB-Colorado
225/4th Round The Pac-12 100-meter sprinter runs in the 4.4s, closes ground on routes in front of him and actually finds a way to be active week-to-week. He simply needs more repetitions. We think he has special teams core (all four teams) potential at the next level. The team will likely incorporate him into some of its nickel/dime packages.
4 (127)K’Von Wallace5’11 206 DB-Clemson82/2nd RoundWallace didn’t always finish interception opportunities in school, but he did often put himself into good position in one-on-one situations. His ability to time his entries in the run game was subsidized by consistent one-on-one coverage in the slot.
4 (145)Jack Driscoll6’5 307
OT-Auburn, UMass
221/4th RoundDriscoll continued to get better during school and his footwork was an area of focus. Now he needs to concentrate on gaining more core strength to handle speed-to-power in the NFL. This will be the case at either OG or OT, where he hopes to win a seventh or eighth role in 2020.
5 (168)John Hightower6’1 185
All-purpose-
Boise State
259/4th Round Hightower continued to improve every year in school but finally put it all together in 2019. For a team that went into the draft wanting to add speed at WR, Hightower has some capabilities.
6 (196)Shaun Bradley6’1 235
LB-Temple
196/4th Round Bradley has some footwork issues to clean up at the exchange LB spot. However, he will add plenty of speed to a defense and special teams unit that values quality backups.
6 (200)Quez Watkins6’0 185
WR-Southern Miss
124/3rd RoundSpeed is the name of the game in the pass-happy NFL, and Watkins brings plenty of it to the table. He seemed to build to an even different top gear with the ball in his hands on quick RPO slants and posts. Now he needs to work on getting off of press coverage.
Philadelphia Eagles sixth-round pick Quez Watkins concluded his impressive three-year run at Southern Miss by averaged 18.2 yards per reception as a junior (1,145 yards, 6 TDs).
6 (210)
Prince Tega Wanogho
6’5 308
OT-Auburn
141/3rd Round
Tega Wanogho did not have a chance to show off his impressive tools in the postseason. At this point in the process, the team could afford to take a flyer on a player who may not reach his peak for another three-year period.
7 (233)
Casey Toohill
6’4 250
OLB-Stanford
260/4th Round
Toohill is a fast, athletic long LB with enough speed to play multiple spots. Coverage is a question mark, as is his ability to transfer speed-to-power as a pass rusher.
Washington Redskins Notable pick: Although the Redskins have a number of different types of receivers on its roster, there is no one other than Cam Sims that contains Gandy-Golden’s size. If he can transition effectively to the NFL, it could open up the team’s Red Zone offense.
Round, Selection,
Player School DN Big Board Rank/ Grade ‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (2) Chase Young6’5 264
DE-Ohio State
2/1st Round The Redskins are hoping that Young turns into not only a transformational player but that he can also open up possibilities for the talented Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan on the other side. He may see time at DT on third downs.
3 (66)Antonio Gibson6’0 223
All-Purpose-Memphis
25/2nd Round There simply aren’t players with the size/speed quotient that Gibson brings to the table at 228 pounds. It would not be a shock to see the team use im in the backfield as a dot RB, slot WR or even outside receiver. The all-purpose dynamo produced without a lot of touches in school.
4 (108)Saahdiq Charles6’4 303
OT-LSU
189/4th RoundCharles bends, latches and slides effectively. What he hasn’t been able to do is stay on the field. Whether it was a suspension, injury or otherwise, the former Tiger was not dependable week-to-week. Perhaps the NFL opportunity will change his tunes.
4 (142)  Antonio Gandy-Golden6’4 223
WR-Liberty
95/3rd RoundGandy-Golden didn’t necessarily perform as well during the testing portion of the postseason as he did on the field. It will not come as a shock if he develops into the team’s primary Red Zone threat early in his career.
5 (156)Keith Ismael 6’3 309
OC-San Diego State
113/3rd RoundIsmael -a junior-entry- probably would have not gone much higher in next year’s draft and that may have influenced his decision to come out early. His quickness (and experience at three positions) will add another layer to the Redskins running game.
5 (162)Khaleke Hudson5’11 224
S/LB-Michigan
263/4th Round Hudson may have gotten dinged because he doesn’t really have a true position at the next level. At least, not yet. We think he can be a sub-package LB with enough zone capability to cover the flats and beyond.
Washington Redskins fifth-round draft pick Khaleke Hudson blocked five kicks during his career at Michigan.
7 (216)
Kamren Curl
6’1 206
S-Arkansas

150/3rd Round
Curl – a former cornerback- plays faster on the field than he times in T-shirts and shorts. He reacts to what he sees on the football field and plays with anticipation.
7 (226)
James Smith-Williams
6’3 265
DE-NC State
310/5th Round
Smith-Williams was probably as accomplished off the field as he was on it. A subpar senior year caused the workout warrior to slip in the draft, but injuries were probably more of the cause. However, Ron Rivera has had success with these types of DL (see Mario Addison) in the past.

2019 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: NFC East

The New York Giants had the sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft and selected former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.  Their selection set off a series of events in what shapes up to be a very competitive division in 2019.  We take a look at every pick in the division made this past weekend.

NFC EAST

Hill (No. 9 pictured), the Dallas Cowboys second-round selection, actually starred as a 320-pound freshman defensive end under former defensive coordinator Erik Chinander.

Dallas Cowboys Notable picks: Hill may be the pick that the team looks back on eventually with a smile.  His immense athleticism could provide matchup problems from the inside in Year 1.  Pollard’s play speed varies, but his downhill running style gives the team options in the return game.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (58) Trysten Hill UCF 74/2nd Round We talked to one anonymous offensive coordinator who stated that “Hill was the best defensive lineman they had seen.”  This same coordinator had also faced other top-notch Power 5 defenses.  It lays credence to the amount of talent that the 300-plus pound Hill possesses.
3 (90) Connor McGovern OG/Penn State 98/3rd Round The Cowboys had a revolving door at the left guard spot in 2018 and McGovern- a former U.S. Army All-American-got on the field early for the Nittany Lions, starting nine games as a freshman.  He is a bully on the football field who works better at guard than center.
4 (128) Tony Pollard All-Purpose/Memphis 161/3rd Round The NCAA’s all-time leading kickoff returner in terms of TD returns was also an effective dot running back and slot receiver.  He could be a steal in the fourth round.  Career Stats: 4,860 all-purpose yards-139 carries for 941 yards (6.8 YPC) and 9 TDs; 104 receptions for 1,292 yards (12.4 YPR) and 9 TDs; 87 KOR, 2,616 yards (30.1 yds/KR) and an NCAA-record 7 KR TDs
5 (158) Michael Jackson CB/Miami (Fla.) 149/3rd Round Jackson had a solid two-year run for the Hurricanes subsidized by an above average showing during 2019 East-West Shrine practices.  He is a very good challenger versus wide receivers, particularly bigger receiving targets. He is a cornerback that does better versus outside releases than inside releases in press-man.
5 (165) Joe Jackson DE/

Miami (Fla.)

180/3rd Round Jackson can be a bit unorthodox in his style, making it tough for offensive tackles to gauge his techniques.  Despite some stiffness, he posted 138 tackles, 24 QB sacks, 37.5 TFLs, 5 FFs, 2 FRs, INT and 5 PBUs in 39 games.
6 (213) Donovan Wilson S/Texas A&M 168/3rd Round Wilson came to Texas A&M with a reputation for turning the ball over and didn’t disappoint in school.  A long defender, his versatility extended to the nickel, cornerback and safety spots in school.
7 (218)

Acquired from Oakland

Mike Weber RB/Ohio State 347/5th Round The former U.S. Army All-American got off to a hot start in Columbus, but that has since cooled down after a rash of nagging lower extremity injuries lingered over a two-year period.
7 (241)

 

Jalen Jelks DE/Oregon 174/3rd Round Jelks, a former high school interior DL, can move around the defensive front with ease.  He is more athletic than his testing numbers suggest. 

New York Giants first-round draft pick Daniel Jones’ 85-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Rahming in the 2018 Independence Bowl was one of five touchdown passes in a career-best performance.

 

New York Giants Notable picks: Although the Giants made several good selections, this entire draft will ultimately come down to how the team transitions from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones.  GM Dave Gettleman and his scouting department deserve credit for getting early-round value with Love, the Slaytons and Ballentine. For the second straight year, Gettleman decided to draft a player from Georgia’s defense (2018-Lorenzo Carter, third round).
Round,

Selection

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (6) Daniel Jones Duke 73/2nd Round The Giants believe that Jones can be an Eli Manning-clone, but perhaps with better athleticism.  Jones started 36 games in his career and finished it with six touchdowns in an MVP performance in the 2018 Independence Bowl.
1 (17)

Acquired from the Cleveland Browns in the Odell Beckham, Jr. and Olivier Vernon trade

Dexter Lawrence Clemson 9/1st Round After taking its heir apparent to Eli Manning early, the Giants decide to bet on the third Clemson DL to go off on the board.  Can Lawrence return to his 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year form?  It may not matter.  He will line up over the center in the team’s three-man fronts and occasionally line up over offensive guards in their four-man looks.
1 (30)

Acquired from the Seattle Seahawks

Deandre Baker Georgia 36/2nd Round Baker’s toughness will be a good fit for the Giants.  He has a chance to vie for a starting role in Year 1.  The big key for him will be finding a balance in transition during the move area for wide receivers (12-to-16 yards). 
3 (95) Oshane Ximines DE/Old Dominion 148/3rd Round Ximines (Troy Jefferson’s Player to Watch in our 2018 Old Dominion preview)  has plenty of the characteristics needed to produce as a 30-front outside linebacker.  While only an adequate bender, he uses a quick-footed nature to escape offensive tackles.   He seemed most comfortable rushing from the right side in the film viewed.
4 (108) Julian Love CB/Notre Dame 68/2nd Round Love’s gambling style resulted in a number of pick-six opportunities in 2017, and he finished on most of them.  The consensus All-American has outstanding instincts and quickness. 
5 (143) Ryan Connelly LB/Wisconsin 237/4th Round Connelly’s toughness shined through the entire 2018 season.  Despite playing through injury, he produced at nearly the exact level as he had in 2017. He is not a thumper but is capable of getting low to tackle.  Connelly ends up getting the draft call over partner and All-Big Ten linebacker T.J. Edwards.
5 (171) Darius Slayton WR/Auburn 127/3rd Round Speed is a big part of the equation whenever a receiver averages 20 yards per catch over a three-year period.  Slayton has no problems running by defensive backs.  He caught three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns in the 2018 Music City Bowl. His body language gives away intermediate route concepts because he doesn’t come off the ball with consistent forward lean.
6 (180) Corey Ballentine CB/Washburn 50/2nd Round He has excellent feet, hip flexibility, toughness and return skills.  Working on staying lower in his backpedal will put yet another tool in his toolbox, but he already can close distances from a variety of angles.
7 (232)

Acquired from Minnesota

George Asafo-Adjei OL/Kentucky 583/6th Round Plus size.  Praised for his versatility within the program.  Heavy puncher. Although he started primarily at the right tackle spot, he can backup several positions.  His impressive Pro Day performance likely earned him a draft slot. 
7 (245)

Acquired from Los Angeles

Chris Slayton DL-Syracuse 123/3rd Round It could be argued that the 700-pound squatter has as much lower body strength as the team’s 17th overall pick in Lawrence. He is not an accomplished pass rusher but he finished his career with 32.5 tackles for losses. Despite the Orange winning 10 games in 2018, Slayton was the team’s only draft pick.

 

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins passed for 4,831 yards (70%), 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2018.

Washington Redskins Notable picks: Haskins may carry a bit of a chip on his shoulder due to his slight fall simply because the Giants play in the same division.  It will be fun to track future Jones versus Haskins matchups.  He will pair up with his Buckeye teammate McLaurin in the third round, and we felt that he carried second-round value.  Harmon could become grand larceny in the sixth round, as could either Moreland or Brailford in the seventh.  Bruce Allen and Doug Williams put together a well-constructed draft designed to grab another pass rusher, a future quarterback and more competition at receiver.  Linebacker is still a question mark for the team entering 2019, especially after the release of Zach Brown.  There will be a lot of pressure on Reuben Foster to finally come into his own.
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (15) Dwayne Haskins Ohio State 27/2nd Round Haskins passed for 50 touchdowns in his only year as a starter at the collegiate level.  He provides insurance in case Alex Smith is unable to return from a catastrophic leg injury in 2018.  The All-Big Ten signal-caller will compete with former Broncos QB Case Keenum.
1 (26)

Acquired from Indianapolis

Montez Sweat Mississippi State 8/1st Round The Redskins needed to upgrade their pass rush and Sweat was likely the best player left on its board. Aside from dynamic testing numbers, the former Michigan State Spartan stood out over the last two years on the field for the Bulldogs with underrated effort.
3 (76) Terry McLaurin WR/Ohio State 30/2nd Round McLaurin caught 11 TD passes from Dwayne Haskins in 2018.   After a strong Senior Bowl week of practices which clearly defined him as the week’s best route runner, it leaves one to wonder what his production would have been like as its No. 1 featured receiver.  Aside from the ability to win off the line of scrimmage, he is one of the better gunners in this year’s draft.  He finished his career with 17 tackles.
4 (112) Bryce Love RB/Stanford 110/3rd Round Love went nearly exactly at his position on our Big Board, but he may have gone much higher if he had not suffered an ACL injury late in the year. Ankle issues were also a concern during his career. The fact that he carried the ball 97 less times as a senior may have saved him wear-and-tear in the minds of some entering this year’s draft.
4 (131) Wes Martin OG/Indiana N/A The Hoosiers team captain may have surprised some by going ahead of teammate Brandon Knight.  His ability to create forward movement in the run game may be underrated.  Martin did 38 reps at 225 pounds on his Pro Day.
5 (153) Ross Pierschbacher OC/Alabama 314/4th Round It is not often that a high profile offensive lineman from the state of Iowa gets out of the state.  Pierschbacher more than justified his national ranking as a prep level lineman.  He has solid initial quickness, positive on-field movement and decent overall awareness.  He will need some help if left on an island versus elite interior pass rushers.
5 (173) Cole Holcomb LB/UNC 272/4th Round Despite being a good overall athlete, the second-team All-ACC linebacker did not have one scholarship offer coming out of high school.  The former soccer player has good feet on the field.  He is a bit of a pumped up 230-plus pounds.  A workout warrior, he caught the attention of NFL scouts with his 4.46 speed, 6.77 3-cone and 4.15 20-yard short shuttle times in pre-draft workouts.  He also went 11-feet in the broad jump.
6 (206) Kelvin Harmon WR/NC State 108/3rd Round Harmon says he likes Michael Thomas (Saints) because their frames are similar. We think he plays the game at the right clip.  His play strength and 218-pound frame make it  tough for defensive backs to work through and around.  He is a grinder who could stick.
7 (227) Jimmy Moreland CB-Nickel/James Madison 164/3rd Round There is really not much more Moreland could have done while at James Madison.  He covered instinctively, was willing in run support and finished plays on the ball as well as any cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft class. He finished his career with 18 interceptions (363 yards, 6 TDs), but he was knocked for his 73 1/4-inch wingspan.
7 (253) Jordan Brailford DE-OLB/Oklahoma State 171/3rd Round Brailford did exactly what he was supposed to do during the 2019 postseason.  At every turn he not only met expectations, but often exceeded them.  This was even evident when he showed up over 250 pounds at the 2019 NFL Combine.  On the field, he put up 28 tackles for losses the last two years with efficient work using roll moves, slithering gaps on line games and an occasional inside club.

 

 

Miller (No. 48 pictured), Penn State’s Co-MVP in 2018, posted 12.5 quarterbacks and 26 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.

 

Philadelphia Eagles Notable pick:  For a team that prides itself on pass rushers, the team’s fourth-round pick in Miller has a chance to be more than what many may bargain for.  While his statistics don’t represent it, he was always at his best versus the best competition. For the second straight year, the Eagles take a defensive end with upside in the fourth round (2018-Josh Sweat).
Round,

Selection,

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (22)

Acquired from the Baltimore Ravens  in exchange for its 25th overall pick

Andre Dillard OT/Washington State 13/1st Round Dillard has the ability to pass protect at a high level and he will be tasked to become the team’s bookend opposite Lane Johnson. After being a serviceable Pac-12 tackle in a pass-happy offense, will his workout numbers translate to becoming a dominant force on the field? 
2 (53)

Acquired from Baltimore

Miles Sanders RB/Penn State 49/2nd Round Sanders came to Penn State ranked as the No. 1 running back in the entire country by several recruiting services.  He is adequate in blitz pick-up and -although largely unproven as a route runner- possesses soft hands.  As he moves on to the NFL, he will become more aware of his ball security.
2 (57) J.J. Arcega-Whiteside WR/Stanford 100/3rd Round Arcega-Whiteside, the 2014 South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, and former high school basketball standout, brings a high-flying style to the field.  It will be important for the Eagles to move him around some, like they did at Stanford. 
4 (138) Shareef Miller DE/Penn State 138/4th Round Miller -a junior-entry who ranked 138th on our Big Board- could prove to be a better pro than collegian.  He is better with his hand in the dirt than out of a two-point stance and often translates speed-to-power on line games and stunts.  He bought into DL coach Sean Spencer’s various techniques the last two seasons.
5 (167)

Acquired from New England via Los Angeles via Kansas City

Clayton Thorson QB/Northwestern 178/3rd Round His moxie, arm strength, athleticism and overall pocket presence complement above average size. He won 35 of his 53 career games in school and was 3-1 as a starter in bowl games (didn’t finish the Music City Bowl).  He did, however, bring his team back from a 20-3 deficit in the 2018 Holiday Bowl. 

2019 NFL Draft: Cornering the market

The 2019 NFL Draft has long been lauded for a deep class of interior and exterior defensive linemen. One position -although devoid of Top 10 talent- that has unique depth is the cornerback spot. We take a look at three players from that position group.

Justin Layne 6’2 185 Michigan State

Layne has a smooth style accompanied by defensive end-like arm length (33″). The former college wide receiver posted 30 touchdowns as a prep level star at Benedictine High School (Ohio). For a taller corner, he flips his hips relatively well in man-to-man coverage. We were surprised at his ability to react off of the wide receiver’s block of the safety in crack-and-replace situations to tackle.

The former Spartan needs to monitor allowing his motor-press technique turning into a backpedal at the line of scrimmage. This has allowed easy access on quick slants. On the plus side, however, this same technique keeps him in the hip pocket of receivers. In these instances, he is adept at playing through the hands of wideouts with his back turned to the quarterback in man-to-man coverage (PBU, 4th QTR/5:07, Utah State; PBU, 4th QTR/5:07, Penn State vs. Johnson).

NFL teams hold Layne in relatively high regard and we expect him to possibly come off the board at least by the end of Day 2 next weekend.

Corey Ballentine 5’11 196 Washburn

Ballentine averaged nearly 31 yards per kickoff return as a junior at the Division II level. In 46 career games, he forced four fumbles and displayed a knack for blocking kicks (three in 2018). The first-team All-MIAA performer uses adequate technique in press-man coverage and has shown the ability to close on crossing routes that break away from him. Despite recording just five interceptions in school, he has a natural feel and comfort finding the football due to his footwork, hip flexibility and confident disposition.

Ballenine posted a 10.51 100-meter time for the Washburn track & field squad. The 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner posted an 11’3″ broad jump at the 2019 NFL Combine.

For him to transition from the D2 level to the pros, the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner will have to concentrate on playing a little bit lower in his stance. This would eliminate him from reacting too dramatically to hard jab steps, which he has a tendency to do on occasion. Teams that have Ballentine in mind will be comforted by the fact that he was a part of the team’s kickoff and punt return units, while also returning the kickoffs referenced earlier. The former Washburn track & field sprinter posted a 21.2-second time in the 200-meters while in school.

Jordan Brown 6’0 201 South Dakota State

We were fortunate to see Brown play in person during the team’s playoff contest against Kennesaw State in December 2018 and we were impressed with his down-to-down awareness. The Jackrabbits team captain is another former wide receiver with the skills to play off-man or bump-and-run.

Brown (pictured pointing) finished his career with 148 tackles, 6 TFLs, 4 FFs, 8 INTs and 27 PBUs. He was a two-time first-team All-MVFC selection and AP third-team All-American in 2018.

The Kennesaw State contest required him to play disciplined football because of the Owls’ diverse triple-option attack. His fourth quarter plant-and-drive on a quick three-step hitch created a tip that was intercepted by a teammate. The turnover sealed the game for the team. He believed his indicators and drove on the football with force. We were not as impressed with his inability to protect his thigh boards in this game, but he has exhibited solid tackling technique on film. Maintaining eye control will be key for Brown in his next level ascension (see Southern Illinois ’18).

Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles, 12-3-18: In-game report

Washington was not able to overcome another lost at quarterback while Philadelphia relied on their passing game to improve their playoff positioning. Philadelphia topped Washington, 28-13, on Monday Night Football in a pivotal division matchup. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Redskins quarterback position

Washington thought Colt McCoy, who has been with the Redskins since 2014, could stabilize the offense after Alex Smith went down two weeks ago.  However, McCoy fractured his fibula against the Eagles, which leaves the Redskins with Mark Sanchez at quarterback.  Sanchez’s command of the offense was limited because of his inexperience with head coach Jay Gruden’s attack. Sanchez completed 13-of-21 passes for 100 yards and an interception.  But as was evident on a wide receiver toss gone wrong, where Sanchez frantically pitched it to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the Washington Redskins new starting quarterback has a long way to go before he is ready to run the offense.

“We tried to get him comfortable,” Gruden said during the postgame press conference. 

It will be a short week for the Redskins, who will play against the Giants on Sunday.  Look for them to bring in a backup quarterback who has been with Gruden before, like Josh Johnson. 

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz should be mentioned with some of the best tight ends in the game.  The former Stanford product has 93 receptions for 978 yards and six touchdowns on the season.  The 93 catches are an Eagles franchise record.

“To set the record at home is obviously very special,”  Ertz said after the game against the Redskins.  “At the same time, the most important thing for me tonight was getting the win.”

Against Washington, Ertz caught nine passes on 10 targets for 83 yards.  As he has done all season, Ertz proved to be too fast for the Redskins inside linebackers, who tried to matchup with him and against smaller cornerbacks and safeties, he was able to use his 6’5 250 frame to box out and out leverage defensive backs. 

Jason Kelce

The Eagles best weapon on offense might play center.  Jason Kelce (6’3, 295) is one of the smaller centers in the NFL but he is able to move like a tight end. The Eagles center is a terror on screens because he is able to get downfield in a hurry and pave the way for screens like he did twice against the Redskins. On a second quarter touchdown, Carson Wentz threw a screen to Darren Sproles, Kelce’s 15 yard block downfield against Redskins linebacker Mason Foster led to the score.

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys, 9-16-18: In-game report

In a classic NFC East battle, the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) and the New York Giants (0-2) turned back the clock and played a style of football reminiscent of their 1990s encounters. The Cowboys prevailed 20-13.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Cowboys defense

Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 33-of-49 passes but averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt on Sunday night.

If it hasn’t already, the game ball should go to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.  The Cowboys harassed the Giants offense all game, holding their division rival to 35 rushing yards and sacking Eli Manning six times.  Marinelli utilized  his traditional single high safety looks with a few twists.  Throughout the game, the fifth-year Cowboys defensive coordinator threw in some slot blitzes and twisting stunts along the defensive line.  Manning was forced to run off his spot and settle for checkdowns. Even when he had time, he “hopped” in the pocket and didn’t set his feet to throw.  A good example of this was in the second quarter on third down when Manning panicked and rushed a throw that went behind his intended receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.   The Giants addressed their skill positions in the offseason but Dallas took advantage of an offensive line and a quarterback that were out of sync.

Cowboys kicking game

Much to the dismay of Cowboys fans, Dan Bailey was released before the season. Bailey, who had an 88-percent field goal accuracy percentage over his seven-year career, was replaced with 28-year old rookie Brett Maher.  Maher missed his only field goal attempt from 47 yards against the Panthers in Week 1, but did go 2-of-2 against the Giants. The kicks were from 37 yards and 29 yards respectively.  Maher wasn’t tested in Week 2 with long range attempts but his progress over the season will be worth monitoring.  In a division which is so heavily balanced, special teams could decide who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.

Saquon Barkley

The Giants second overall draft pick has showed through two games that he can contribute in multiple ways.  Dallas looked to stack the box against the run while also avoiding the home run ball to receivers Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.  Despite rushing for just 28 yards, Barkley caught 14 passes for 80 yards. The rookie from Penn State has transferred his open field deceptiveness from college to the NFL.  On one play in the second quarter, Barkley caught the ball in the flat by beating the Cowboys linebackers to the outside and then used a spin move to avoid safety Kavon Frazier to gain a few extra yards.  Look for head coach Pat Shurmur to continue to tailor the playbook to get Barkley more quick touches in the open field, whether that be in the running or passing game.

 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins, 9-16-18: In-game report

Washington had a chance to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2011 but strong play from the Colts defense and key adjustments in the offensive passing game led to an upset.  Washington (1-1) fell to Indianapolis (1-1), 21-9.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Darius Leonard 

Meet the NFL’s tackle leader: Darius Leonard, the 31st-ranked player on DraftNasty’s 2018 Big Board.  And if you watched Leonard at South Carolina State this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Leonard stuffed the stat sheet against the Redskins, posting 18 tackles, one quarterback sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.  As his numbers would indicate, Leonard was dominant in the run and pass game.  What was most impressive in the game against Washington was Leonard’s ability to use his closing speed to diagnose plays and keep potential 10-15 yard gains to minimal pickups. The rookie linebacker wears the helmet transmitter during games and has made himself into the quarterback of the defense.   His athleticism allows him to match up against tight ends and running backs in the pass game and is willing to help in the run game. He reminds me of Derrick Brooks with his sideline-to-sideline quickness and his matchup versatility.  Look for the Colts, who are in a rebuilding mode, to continue to build the defense around rookie linebacker Darius Leonard.

Colts offense

Hilton has 12 receptions and two receiving touchdowns in the first two games of the year.

Frank Reich has made a name in the NFL as a coach because of his ability to adapt and tailor his game plans from week-to-week. The Colts used a heavy diet of pick plays against man-to-man coverage that caught the Redskins off guard.  Washington has several corners, including Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, who excel in press man coverage and the pick routes used by the Colts allowed their quick-twitched receivers to roam free over the middle of the field and took away the Redskins’ strong suit of jamming receivers at the line. T.Y. Hilton, the Colts star receiver, was the beneficiary of the game plan and from the first drive of the game it was clear that the Colts plan of attack centered on getting Norman off of his body.  To begin the second quarter, Luck bought Hilton in motion from the right sideline to the numbers and immediately snapped the ball, which gave the Pro Bowl receiver more room to work with on his post route against Norman, who couldn’t jam the receiver at the line. Hilton finished with seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown against Washington.

Redskins offense

If the Colts offense was original, the Redskins offense was vanilla and predictable.  The Redskins  finished with just 65 rushing yards and 269 passing yards, the bulk of which came in garbage time. Washington thrived in Week 1 with a balanced running attack but as has been the case in Jay Gruden’s tenure, the team has a tendency to abandon the run for no obvious reason.  The team’s receivers aren’t at the level to carry their offense and struggled against the Colts cornerbacks to get separation in their routes.  Look for Washington to get back to a more balanced attack against Green Bay as Gruden may open the game with a deep ball or two to loosen up the Packers secondary.

 

Sam Beal CB Western Michigan

1 Sam Beal 6’1 178 CB-Junior

 What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Long. Plays fast. He’s shown outstanding effort in cross-field pursuit (ran down Holsey, 1st play, FF, Buffalo ’17). Excellent body control. Nearly tipped a fade to himself along the sidelines with a high-wire act vs. USC in 2017.   In his bail techniques, he closes out of his zone turns to break downhill. Uses a positive look-and-lean technique in man coverage down the field (press-man). Turns his head to find the ball with his back to the QB.

Weaknesses: Ruled academically ineligible for the 2018 season due to a shortage of credits.   Missed three games as a junior in high school due to a knee injury. A hamstring injury caused him to miss the state finals in track & field as a high school junior. Missed the second half of the Buffalo game and the Akron game in 2017.  Needs to continue to fill out his frame.  He missed some tackles vs. USC in 2017 due to inadequate play strength.  Stands up when breaking forward out of his breaks.

 Other Notes:

  • Attended Ottawa Hills HS (Mich.) and was a four-time All-American in track & field
  • Ran a 10.63 100-meters in the semifinals of the 2013 MHSAA State track & field championships and finished 3rd in the 100-meter finals (10.86)
  • 2015: 15 tackles, PBU
  • 2016: 55 tackles, 8 PBUs
  • 2017 (2nd Team All-MAC): 26 tackles, 3 TFLs, FF, 2 INTs and 10 PBUs
  • 2018 Western Michigan Pro Day: 4.48 40-yd, 10’6” BJ, 37” VJ, 4.09 20-yd SS, 7.1 3-cone

 Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Beal’s idol is Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. While not as gifted, he does have similar confidence finding the ball down the field in man-to-man coverage. Despite satisfactory effort running to the ball, he’s been ordinary at times getting off of blocks. In addition, he’s been hit-or-miss as a tackler. The former high school track standout has also endured his share of durability hiccups dating back to his prep level playing career. There is not question, however, that he has starting potential as a press-bail corner at the next level. If he can clean up his off-man technique, it will complement his consistent bump-and-run technique. While there are questions surrounding his inability to stay eligible, the Western Michigan coaches gave him high marks when it came to work ethic and consistency. He is a player that will get consideration in the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft as a potential second-round option.

 

 

2018 NFL Draft recap, pick-by-pick: NFC East

NFC EAST

 

Dallas Cowboys

Vander Esch hopes to bring championships to the Cowboys over the next few years.

Notable picks: Vander Esch may prove to be the difference-maker that the Cowboys envision with his versatility. Armstrong’s uneven pre-draft workouts are not at all an indication of his on-field burst and athleticism. Williams adds some swing backup insurance and could outplay his original draft position.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (19) Leighton

Vander Esch

6’4 256

Boise State 36 (2nd Round) Athletic former basketball player has to become better in his stack-and-shed. Underrated range in coverage.
2 (50) Connor

Williams

6’5 296

Texas 3 (1st Round) Williams’ injury in 2017 following an inauspicious start to his junior campaign. When he’s on top of his game, the finish is in place.
3 (81) Michael

Gallup

WR-6’1 205

Colorado St. 145 (3rd Round) Gallup wins outside the numbers and plays with a physical style that is even stronger than his sturdy 205-pound nature suggests play-to-play.
3 (82) Tracy

Walker

DB-6’1 195

Louisiana-Lafayette 191 (4th Round) Walker has enough length that he could even get looks at a cornerback spot. A solid tackler, his best football may be ahead of him.
4 (116) Dorance

Armstrong, Jr.

OLB-6’4 257

Kansas 49 (2nd Round) Armstrong, Jr. has an 84-inch wingspan and produced 20 tackles for loss in 2016.
4 (140) Dalton Schultz

TE-6’4 249

Stanford 296 (4th Round) Schultz is an underrated route runner despite producing just 11 third down receptions in school.
5 (171) Mike

White

QB-6’4 223

Western Kentucky 155 (3rd Round) White has all of the tools of an NFL starting quarterback minus the mobility.
6 (208) Cedrick

Wilson

WR-6’3 194

Boise State 78 (3rd Round) Wilson produced like a first-round wideout in the MWC. Will his 4.55 speed translate to the perimeter or will he be relegated to the slot?
7 (236) Bo

Scarbrough

RB-6’1 228

Alabama 308 (5th Round) It may have been a long wait on draft day, but the bruising runner could be a change-of-pace power back if he can contribute on special teams.

 

 

 

New

York

Giants

Hill (No. 98 pictured) ranked as one of DraftNasty’s Top 3-4 DEs/DTs available in the 2018 NFL Draft. The former Wolfpack star rushed for over 800 yards and 5 TDs as a senior at the prep level.

Notable picks: Hernandez is a mammoth blocker who wins on man blocks.   If he can win as an angle blocker, it will increase the diversity of the running game.  Hill and McIntosh both will add diversity to a defense that finished 27th against the run in 2017.

Round,

Selection

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (2) Saquon

Barkley

RB-6’0 233

Penn State 2 (1st Round) Barkley’s lateral agility is top-notch. How much will he contribute as a check down threat?   Based on his collegiate film, he should line up at a number of spots.
2 (34) Will

Hernandez

OG-6’2 327

UTEP 21 (2nd Round) A behemoth bar room brawler with mass and underrated quickness, Hernandez has to distribute his weight evenly to reach his immense potential.
3 (66) Lorenzo

Carter

OLB-6’5 250

Georgia 68 (3rd Round) Carter has some similarities to current Carolina Panthers DE Mario Addison. Can he create speed-to-power off the edge?
3 (69) B.J. Hill

DL-6’3 311

NC State 22 (2nd Round) Hill’s dependability is aided by an ability to play a bit longer than his 77-inch wingspan would suggest. Makes plays laterally in the run game.
4 (108) Kyle

Lauletta

QB-6’3 222

Richmond 154 (3rd Round) Lauletta –the 2017 CAA Offensive Player of the Year- maintains good posture in the pocket and excels on the hit-and-throw concepts. Posted a 4.07 time in the 20-yard short shuttle at the NFL Combine.
5 (139) RJ

McIntosh

DT-6’4 286

Miami (Fla.) 161 (3rd Round) McIntosh has the size to play either DE or DT.   His 83-inch wingspan complements a light-footed nature. He needs to anticipate snap counts with more consistency.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Former Pittsburgh cornerback Avonte Maddox (No. 14 pictured) played WR, CB, PR KR and the nickel back spot for the Panthers. He will add versatility to the Super Bowl champions’ roster.

Notable pick: Maddox is a player who went undervalued due to size and slight durability concerns. His ability to cover the slot could increase some of the packages by DC Jim Schwartz. Schwartz typically likes to rush with four players and Maddox could increase coverage disguises.  The Eagles got three of our top 60 players with their first three selections.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
2 (49) Dallas

Goedert

6’4 260

South Dakota St. 56 (2nd Round) Goedert gives the Eagles two tight ends who can attack vertically in the seams of the field. And he weighs in the 260-pound range.
4 (125) Avonte

Maddox

CB-5’9 183

Pittsburgh 53 (2nd Round) Maddox’s 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine was only outdone by his 6.51 time in the 3-cone drill. He’s even better on the field than in T-shirts and shorts.
4 (130) Josh

Sweat

DE-6’5 251

Florida St. 58 (2nd Round) Sweat fell due to lingering question marks about his knee.   When he’s feeling good, he can translate speed-to-power with one-hand posts and collapses the edge vs. tackles.
6 (206) Matthew

Pryor

OT-6’6 343

TCU 375 (5th Round) Pryor sits on run defenders with his mammoth size.   He often wins in the first phase of block. 11 ½-inch hands.
7 (233) Acquired from New England Patriots Jordan

Mailata

OL-6’8 346

Australia Rugby player N/A Mailata never played college football, but he ran in the 5.1-range for NFL scouts.

 

Washington Redskins

Settle (No. 4 pictured) posted 19.5 tackles for losses the last two seasons for the Hokies.

Notable picks: Christian will help alleviate the issues the Redskins had last year when injuries beset the offensive line. Can he swing to the center position to challenge incumbent Chase Roullier?  Settle is a player who was once thought of as a potential second-round pick before an uneven postseason.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (13) De’Ron

Payne

DT-6’2 311

Alabama 30 (2nd Round) Payne will help to control the action as a fire-plugging two-gap specialist and occasional one-gap penetrator. Expect to see him aligned over the center in DC Greg Manusky’s three-man fronts.
2 (59) Derrius

Guice

RB-5’11 224

LSU 24 (2nd Round) Guice will have to balance his bullish running style to avoid the injury scrapes that took away time from him as a junior.
3 (74) Geron

Christian

OT-6’5 298

Louisville 79 (3rd Round) Christian’s versatility in school saw him move around during games. He was seen snapping the ball on his Pro Day and it could be a possible transition to a starting role.
4 (109) Troy

Apke

S-6’1 200

Penn State 147 (3rd Round) Apke didn’t make a number of plays off the hash, but he demonstrated range during the week of the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and versus Pittsburgh in 2017.
5 (163) Tim

Settle

DT-6’3 329

Virginia Tech 200 (4th Round) Settle’s quickness is aided by power. He will win versus guards or centers and could be a rotational piece on first and second down.
6 (197) Shaun

Dion Hamilton

LB-6’0 228

Alabama 231 (4th Round) Crimson Tide team captain has battled major lower extremity injuries, but he can locate, identify and close once he’s made his reads.
7 (241) Greg

Stroman

CB-5’11 174

Virginia Tech 381 (5th Round) With Stroman’s level of return ability, it is easy to forget that he also broke up 27 passes and picked off 9 passes in school.
7 (256) Trey Quinn

WR-5’11 203

SMU, LSU 227 (4th Round) Mr. Irrelevant caught 114 passes in 2017 after an unsettling stint at LSU. His savvy and quickness earn high marks.

Bryant’s Beehive: 3-for-3 into NFL Week 17

Is Dez Bryant worthy of carry the title of X-Factor? Is Drew Brees still the best QB in the NFC South? What challenges does Kansas City Chiefs rookie QB Patrick Mahomes face in his first career start? Read more to find out these answers and more in Bryant’s 3-for-3.

Dez Bryant: X-Factor or Not

There’s no question from a physical standpoint Dez Bryant is one of those Terrell Owens specimen-type athletes. However, Bryant’s mediocre productivity this season has only been a reflection of his previous two seasons in Dallas. The Cowboys need more from their big money receiver. Before the double coverage murmurs begin, teams have had to respect the veteran presence of Jason Witten, the consistency of Cole Beasley, and the speed of Terrance Williams. Even when comparing him with Hall of Fame WR Michael Irvin in his eighth-year in the NFL, Irvin had 111 catches for over 1,600 yards (1995). Despite a decline in his numbers and less games played the following season, Irvin went on to have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1997-98). At this point, the projection of Bryant reaching his 2012-14 status is not looking so bright. In 2017, Bryant failed to have a 100-yard receiving game and according to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second in the NFL with nine drops. The bottom line is Bryant is underperforming his contract, as well as his lead position for the Cowboys organization. With the future at quarterback and running back, is it time for the Cowboys to seek a No. 1 WR in the 2018 NFL Draft?

‘Brees’-ing Through

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees continues to find the Fountain of Youth. Over the last few seasons, the NFC South has been graced with the athleticism of Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Atlanta Falcons 2016 MVP QB Matt Ryan, and the emerging Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Jameis Winston. However, the 38-year old veteran has led his team to its first winning record and playoff berth in four seasons. Perhaps these accomplishments are more fulfilling at this stage in his career than passing for 5,000 yards in a season (something he has accomplished four times). With one more game remaining on schedule, Brees has completed a career-high 71.9% of his passes and has managed to stay in the single digit column in interceptions (8). It has been eight years since Drew Brees has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  Does the ageless wonder have what it takes to bring another championship back to New Orleans?

Mahomes Debut

After locking up the AFC West for the second season in a row and clinching a spot in the playoffs, head coach Andy Reid is turning the keys over to rookie QB Patrick Mahomes for Sunday’s contest against the Denver Broncos. While this game may serve as a meaningless game for some, Mahomes will still be tested by a Broncos defense that ranks second in the league in total defense and fourth in the league against the pass.  Mahomes, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, displayed great arm strength, strong hips through his release, and mobility coming out of Texas Tech. With a notable seasoned veteran and the potential contract discussions of Alex Smith at the end of the season, could we be getting a glimpse of the Chiefs new QB next season?

Ezekiel Elliott 6’0 225 RB Ohio State: 2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report

15 Ezekiel Elliott RB 6’0 225 Ohio State

Photo by: Al Bradley
Former Ohio State RB Ezekial Elliott, pictured, has rushed for over 2,600 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys after getting selected fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Photo by: Al Bradley  Instagram: www.instagram.com/1djsoul

What makes this player NASTY (Strengths): Athletic bloodlines. Prototype size. Muscular build. Big game player. Brings his best vs. the best competition. Finishing speed. Ball security.  Keeps the football high and tight to his frame. Holds his top-end speed and has rarely been caught from behind in the open field. Sticks his foot in the dirt and gets vertical on inside zones. Runs with forward lean. Delivers punishment to safeties, LBs and DBs (6-yard run, 1st quarter, Notre Dame ’16). Gets on top of safeties and LBs quickly at the second level due to acceleration. Excellent hand-eye coordination shows up as an outlet on swings and flat routes. Patience.  On counter-trey and counter-trap runs, he allows the puller to make contact in the hole before making a decision. Possesses the deft, subtle skips to bounce runs to his left (Penn State í14). Outstanding blocker. He will get all the way up the third level to block safeties. Heís also been a factor lead blocking on strong sweeps; where he’s made highlight film blocks vs. CBs (Notre Dame í16-Fiesta Bowl). Ability to cut block has led to scoring opportunities in the red area (Barnett, TD, Illinois í15).  Measures the thigh boards and ankles of moving targets. Identifies and ID’s the most dangerous pass rusher in blitz pick-up.

Weaknesses: Does not always get his hips aligned to strike vs. longer OLB-types even after correctly identifying the man in pass pro (Penn State ’14, Oregon ’15).  Suffered a broken thumb in the 2014 fall camp. He hasnít always made the last man miss in open field situations (Daniels, Oregon ’15-national title game). Muffed and lost a punt vs. Virginia Tech in 2015. Underwent surgery on a wrist injury in the fall of 2014 and then again in the winter of 2015 (February). Had an infection in his leg in preparation for the Michigan State game in 2015 and was forced to spend time in the hospital due to pain. Posted just a 32 1/2-inch VJ at the 2016 NFL Combine.

Other Notes:

  • Earned a four-star ranking from Scout.com after starring in three sports (football, basketball and track & field)
  • Won state championships in the 100-meter, 200-meter (22.05), 110-meter high hurdles (13.77) and 300-meter hurdles as a senior
  • Named the Missouri Gatorade State Track Athlete of the Year in 2013
  • Tallied 50 total touchdowns as a high school senior
  • Coached by former NFL QB Gus Frerotte at the prep level
  • Father, Stacy, and mother, Dawn, both graduated from the University of Missouri and were standouts on the football and track teams respectively
  • 2013: 30 carries for 287 yards (8.7 YPC) and 2 TDs; 3 catches and one TD
  • 20 carries for 220 yards and 2 TDs vs. Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game
  • (OFFENSIVE MVP, 2015 Sugar Bowl): 20 carries for 230 yards and 2 TDs vs. Alabama on 1/1/15
  • OFFENSIVE MVP, 2015 National Title Game: 36 rushes for 246 yards and 4 TDs vs. Oregon
  • 2014: 273 rushes for 1,878 yards (6.9 YPC) and 18 TDs; 28 catches for 220 yards (7.9 YPR)
  • 27 rushes for 149 yards and 4 TDs vs. Notre Dame in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl
  • 2015 (Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of Year, 1st team All-Big Ten, coaches): 289 rushes for 1,821 yards (6.3 YPC) and 23 TDs; 27 catches for 206 yards (7.6 YPR)
  • 15 straight 100-yard games from 2014-15
  • 22 career 100-yard games
  • Career Stats: 592 carries for 3,961 yards (6.7 YPC) and 43 TDs; 58 catches for 449 yards (7.7 YPR) and one TD
  • 2016 NFL Combine: 10 1/4″ hands, 31 1/4″ arms, 4.47 (40-yd), 32 1/2″ VJ, 9’10” BJ

Time to get Nasty…(Our Summary):  Elliott’s deceptive stride length and natural power provide a poor man’s version of former All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers, Jets). His light-footed skip steps set up blockers to seal the edge when bouncing runs or provide assistance for his blockers when running inside.  He has pop striking defenders in pass pro, but he could stand to match-up more square versus longer pass rush threats.  There are few questions regarding toughness, football intelligence or size.  Like Tomlinson, he’s very natural catching the football out of the backfield. Elliott projects as a starting running back in Year 1 and his style of play fits gap-schemed styles like the Carolina Panthers employ.

DraftNasty’s Grade: 6.605 (1st Round)

UPDATE: Elliott was picked fourth overall in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.  In two seasons in the NFL, he has rushed for 2,614 yards (4.6 YPC) and 22 touchdowns.  The 2016 first-team All-Pro selection has also caught 58 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns.